A bit of a dilemma

As some of you might remember from November 2012, I explained how I picked my NaNo novel based on the thought of creating a production-line of sorts.

The plan is simple: Write all the current ideas in my mind. Stay in draft mode for as long as possible. Then move into edit mode and stay there for as long as possible.

My reasoning is that this way, I’ll eventually get to a point where I have a finished novel to query while having a whole line-up of novels to edit at the same time.

Simple, yes. Except for one thing. The way my creative mind works involves lots of pauses while it sifts through its thoughts.

Like now. I know what I want to happen in my current rough draft, but for some reason, I just don’t feel like writing. It’s actually a bit worse than that, although I don’t know how to put it in words.

Suffice it to say, something’s telling me to give this WiP a break.

But if I do, will I get back to it in time for me to fit it into the production line?

My gut says yes. My brain is wondering.

On the other hand, I know that it’s wise to give this one a break. I’ve spent years on the book before it and I’m querying that one as we speak. Maybe I should just relax and go with the flow.

Except I know it will be much better to have the sequel drafted by the time book 1 is out, which might be much sooner than I thought.

As I write this, however, I can feel a knot forming somewhere in my thoughts. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but if I force myself to continue with the story, I’ll be adding to the problem.

Guess that means I’m moving onto something else. Maybe for a day. Maybe longer.

Wonder which story I’ll move to now.

Anyone else hit upon snags without knowing what they are? What do you do?


52 thoughts on “A bit of a dilemma

  1. With my current WIP I have all the answers when I'm drifting off to sleep but I can't write the right words when I'm awake. It's really bugging me, because I know I can do better. It's good you have something else to work on though – hopefully that will help!

  2. i understand your predicament. do i force myself to write the sequel as duty might suggest, or do i write something new that my heart wants?

    forcing is not usually the best…good luck!

  3. I'm determined to stick to a writing schedule this year. So I force myself to get the words out. (On another note, you're one of the few authors I've run into these days who is still querying novels. I'm with a publisher, but the old model is becoming increasingly less interesting for me. Many authors are going indie.)

  4. Yes, definitely. I hit that same wall sometimes. I agree with Alex – if it's not working after you try forcing it to work, set it aside. However, I would definitely give it a time limit – like two weeks, and then use those two weeks for whatever fun, creative thing that gets your writing going – short stories, poetry, art, etc. That's what I would do . . .however, you know best.

  5. Yes,

    Remember we are CREATIVE beings… WE just can't turn it on an off. WE need inspiration, passion, excitement. I am just getting back to my first novel that I had written almost four years ago. At first I forced myself to work on it again. I didn't feel it. So I made up tons of excuses, did everything and anything else to avoid working on it.

    Then a friend asked me to look over her novel. I did and it was awesome… Inspired me to work on mine. It was slow moving, but NOW the excitement has come back to me…. it took months. So let your creativity flow in different directions. You'll get back to it at some point.

  6. I just push through it. Sometimes I get past it and write really well, and sometimes I write suckey words. But I'll fix them in editing. My process is different though. I draft a project, then edit it maybe multiple times, and simultaneously query and start next project. Sometimes, I start thenext project before querying to make sure rejection doesn't keep me from moving on.

  7. I can totally relate to this. I agree with others about listening to your gut. I think sometimes you just have to take a break and then return to a project refreshed. For me at least I know I can't force it when I am feeling this way, it never works.

    Good luck! 🙂

  8. There is nothing wrong with letting the story breathe and then going back to it with fresh eyes. I think sometimes we writers are too hard on ourselves. Writing a novel isn't easy! Allow yourself to take a break once in a while. And good luck!

  9. Hi Misha,

    It seems that the best probability is to indeed take a breather and perhaps reflect upon it. Or, set it to one side and try something different. The main thing is to not pressurise yourself.

    In kindness,


  10. I totally understand your dilemma! I had the same thing happen to me about 6 months ago. I wanted to start the sequel of my most recently published book, but my brain kept veering off into another story. I finally gave in and just wrote the story that wanted to be written. I'm putting the final polish on it now and it'll be published in March. So I say: go with your gut! Follow your instincts! They most likely will not lead you astray.

  11. Sometimes when I'm in that place, I find taking a break from writing, period, is the best thing. I'll take a break to read a good book or watch a movie – something like that. Before I know it, my mind has figured out the problem or I've gotten the bug to write again.

    But if you're really inspired to write something else, then indulge it until it dies down. I don't know about you, but I try and harness those elusive bursts of inspiration whenever I can.

  12. For me, writing is like sculpting. I create the form first, noting basic proportion, size and shape. Then I start to shape the arm, or the leg, of the face…like bringing a blurry view into focus I just work it. The real detail, which I love to do, and which is a breeze for me, comes later. The rough form for me is the hardest hurdle to overcome. I guess it's good to remember, words aren't precious. Waste some. Go off on a tangeant. Get lost in a moment, and later go back and smooth, chisel and cut what you don't want. It's okay not to finish something. Life is long. I still have a half-finished Ziggy latch-hook in my closet if anyone wants a crack at it.
    ~Just Jill

  13. I know the feeling you are talking about! Most of the times it's just me being lazy, but my gut tells me to stop. If your gut is telling you to give it a rest, then listen to your gut. I read about the idea somewhere that every writer has this creative being that sort of guides them along the way. I guess you just have to listen to that “creative being”. 😉

  14. Yes, yes, yes…so feel your pain! I need breathing room sometimes in my WIPs when they won't co-operate, and I have felt the conflict between pressing on with a sequel or branching out elsewhere.

    I'm not the best to advise. Some folks will say go with your gut, others will recommend pressing ahead. I reckon it depends on what works for you as a writer, also what pressures are you under to do one thing or another? If someone out there is depending on you to produce something to a deadline, then professionalism is at stake. If the pressure is self-imposed then you can elect to move the goalposts.

  15. I feel your pain. There are several half-finished manuscripts stored on flash drives in my drawer, and I've also experienced that feeling for a short time, then powered through to the end. I guess you first have to decide if the story is worth finishing, and then think about why you are stuck. I once read a Margaret Atwood writing tip that said to go back to the fork in the road where the story went the wrong way and fix it. Until you go back to that spot, it won't work. So maybe you took a wrong turn somewhere and can fix it now? Just a thought.

  16. If I'm not passionate about a project, I put it away. Maybe I'll figure things out for it later. In a few months I'd like to take something I wrote years ago and rewrite it because now I'm ready for it. I can't stop thinking about this unfinished draft and have new ideas for it.

  17. I've started thoroughly planning my books out before writing them so I know exactly what s going to happen next. It isn't a perfect method as I still need to be motivated to write each day and sometimes it just doesn't happen!

    Have you tried plotting out the next section of your book?

    If you really can't move on, I'd be tempted to leave it for now and try something else.

  18. You should listen to your gut feelings and put the book on hiatus if you're just not feeling it as strongly or if you feel you need a bit of a break. It's the same way one should never try to work through pain when exercising. Usually the work is much stronger after a break.

  19. The way I see it, if you work on something without being completely engrossed in what you're writing, then you are going to come out with a sub-par product that will eventually have to be completely redone.
    Some days I'll be on a tear and have dozens of pages of prewrite completed (not quite to actually writing the book yet) and other days I just won't be feeling it and come out with a couple pages of pure dreck that I hate and end up throwing out.
    I always have secondary projects lined up in the wings for just such an occasion which it seems you do as well. Go hang on those for a bit. Who knows, working on something else may help give you ideas for your main project!

  20. Oh I'm by no means seeing querying as my only option. It's just one option I'm ruling out before moving on.

    It's complicated to explain, but I have faith in my novel, but almost none in gatekeepers' ability to see the different way I used to write it is worth the risk.

  21. Yeah seems like it. I'm not thinking of it as unchangeable. There's just this logical way. But I have two rough drafts, so I should theoretically be able to hop between them. 🙂

  22. I think you should always trust your gut!
    My problem is, i have to stick with ONE story at a time. So, although I have MANY stories (and even a second series semi-plotted) I still only feel the urge to work on my current trilogy…
    I have a bloggy friend that is writing 5 or 6 books right now… some in plot stage, some in writing stage, some in editing stage… I dont know how she does it. But i couldnt. I have to stick with one story (and one world) at a time.

    I guess everyones mind just works different! either way, Im sure things will work out eventually!!

    How is the Querying going?? You have been querying for a little while now, right?

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